ESPN's new documentary about LeBron James' infamous televised 2010 free-agency decision confirms the idea came from an Ohio fan seven months prior.
The fan, Drew Wagner, wrote to Bill Simmons, and his idea was published in a mailbag column on Nov. 26, 2009.
"What if LeBron announces he will pick his 2010-11 team live on ABC on a certain date for a show called 'LeBron's Choice?'" Wagner wrote, according to ESPN's Don Van Natta. "What type of crazy ratings would that get?"
Simmons, who worked for ESPN at the time, then took the idea to his superiors and James' inner circle, Van Natta notes.
During the 2010 All-Star Weekend, Simmons pitched it to James' business manager Maverick Carter, his then-agent Leon Rose, and advisor William Wesley. He also met with Rose and Wesley.
"They both loved it," Simmons wrote in an email. "I mean, LOVED IT."
Rose and Wesley reportedly later soured on the idea because of the potential for it to backfire on James, which ultimately happened. However, Carter and longtime James confidante and current agent Rich Paul pushed forward, and on July 8, 2010, James announced on live TV he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.
Meanwhile, Wagner only learned how significant his influence was this week.
"I always had in the back of mind that maybe I did kick this into some kind of gear," the 38-year-old said. "... I don't think I deserve anything from it or any credit. I'm sure plenty of people could have come up with that kind of idea and got the ball rolling. I'm also pretty sure some people would want to shoot the guy who came up with the idea."